Point of View: Air Travel, History, More on Tech


Point of View: Air Travel, History, More on Tech

I took a quick trip that required air travel. I have a couple of comments.


First, air travel seems to be “back.” I took four flights, and every one was completely full. The days of stretching out and using that empty seat next to you are gone.


One thing I noticed: when the plane landed, they turned on music that played while we were off loading. I wondered why. Do they think that when the plane has landed people want to sit in their seats and relax before leaving? It just seemed to me to be something else to add to the chaos. One of my friends noted that maybe they felt that by playing an upbeat song it would get people moving faster. Who knows.


I was looking back at some blog posts from 20 years ago and found this one fit today as well as at the turn of the century.


I got this from a correspondent today:


I moved to Texas in March 2005 and started working in parking. Like you, I have a journalism background. I have been researching and soaking up all parking-related info. Your blog has served me well. I have been reading “The High Cost of Free Parking” and am on the verge of becoming a full-fledged Shoupista. Do you have any suggestions or advice for a parking industry newbie? Thanks!


My first bit of advice is networking. We don’t really have a resource in our industry for problems you will encounter. Network, network, network. Join your state association and attend all the events. Meet people in your job in other cities. They will have the same problems you have and perhaps an answer or two.


Second, avail yourself of what training does exist. The PIE conference in Chicago will have a lot of training programs for you. Boot Camp is a great place to start. I am prejudiced about the program, since I designed it, but it’s a good place to begin your training. There are also the IPI and NPA programs.


Third — Read PT every month. There are a lot of good ideas in there that may help.


Fourth — there are discussion boards on our web site, and on others, plus list servers that can give you information, and quick.


Be a sponge. Absorb everything you can about what’s going on in your city. Get out and visit the locations, spend time in booths, follow enforcement personnel, ride with the meter repair folks, and find out what they are doing. Ask questions and if you don’t like the answers, or they don’t make sense, follow up. Remember that parking can be complex, but it’s not quantum physics.


Most of the experts who really know about parking started as sponges. Of course, now they are old like me and took 30 years to learn the job.


And remember one thing, if nothing else. You are in a profession that really means something to your community. What you do affects most parts of it. Be proud of your career.


Good Luck


I received this from John Clancy. Now retired, John worked in the technology side of the industry for decades. I don’t think this needs any comment:


“I parked at a garage near my hotel at the Riverwalk in San Antonio. It was credit card in, so I swiped my credit card. The gate went up, I drove in and parked.


Now, I should add, don’t get out much. I saw additional equipment at the entry plaza, and lots of instructions. Multiple signs, warnings … but the gate went up, so I drove in and parked. I was in a hurry to get back to the hotel, my wife was waiting for me.


When I went to the exit the next morning, the exit equipment took my credit card to get out, but it wasn’t satisfied. Gate didn’t go up. I tried the intercom, what came out was a garbled static noise that may or may not have been a human being talking.


An attendant was standing 4’ away, she started to train me. She showed me the sequence I needed to learn, to use the unattended transient system. There was a bar code paper ticket involved in the chain somehow; perhaps I was supposed to request that at the entry? No idea.


I paid no attention to her. Once the gate went up, we were outta there. I wasn’t planning any return trips to that hotel in the near future.


I remembered knowing something once, about equipment used for purpose in the distant past.


A different lifetime.


When I was working with a company that created systems like the one that confused John, we had a policy that anytime we put a new product on the market we gave it the “Grandma test.” We set it up at our factory and brought someone’s grandma in, gave her no upfront prompting, and asked her to use it to get the associated gate to go up. If she could, we were golden. If not, it was back to the drawing board.”


A related comment: I was asked a few years ago to come to San Francisco and check out the latest and greatest from a new company. I drove into the garage and was presented a sign with 12 steps I had to go through to get the ticket and the gate up. I followed it exactly and the gate didn’t go up. 


The owner of the company was standing there, and I commented on the complexity of the system. He responded: “Well, if you can’t figure it out, you shouldn’t be driving a car.”


I’m sure that if you looked up “arrogance” in your Funk and Wagnalls his picture would dominate the page.


One last comment:

I read that Chase Bank is planning to open 500 new branches in the near future. When others are closing branches and relying on ATMs and Apps, the country’s largest bank is going the opposite direction. Do they know something we don’t know?

Article contributed by:
John Van Horn, Editor Emeritus
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